Haute Event: 15th Annual Nantucket Wine Festival

It’s time to get your bow ties straightened and your Nantucket Reds pressed: from now through Sunday, May 22, the world’s top-tier winemakers and connoisseurs are boarding the ferry to Nantucket to indulge in exquisite cuisine, perfectly-paired wines, and VIP parties at the 15th annual Nantucket Wine Festival.

Presented by Nantucket Combined Charities, the haute festival’s headquarters is The White Elephant, a historic waterfront inn recently named Travel and Leisure’s number one resort in Massachusetts for 2011. The luxurious establishment serves as the elegant venue for many of the festival’s outdoor (and indoor) activities.

Denis Toner, founder of the Nantucket Wine Festival, puts a special premium on quality at the event he started in 1997: “Part of the reason for the festival’s success is Nantucket’s reputation in the industry as home to a large concentration of fine restaurants, so it is a very important market for wine. Over the past 15 years, I have spent considerable time seeking out quality wineries from around the globe—the entire point of the Nantucket Wine Festival is to emphasize quality over quantity. We’re not the biggest, but I think we’ve proven over the years we are among the most selective, offering our guests the kinds of one-on-one winemaker opportunities that simply aren’t possible at other food and wine events.”

Highlights of the festival’s weekend events and activities include:

The Celebrity Chef & Winemaker Auction Dinner (May 21) – Held at The White Elephant, the benefit dinner (supporting the Nantucket Historical Association) will feature the culinary brilliance of Brooke Vosika of Four Seasons Hotel Boston, complemented by the exquisite wines of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin and Newton Vineyards. As dinner patrons are wined and dined, they can bid on exclusive vineyard trips, rare bottle collections, and a variety of wine-related fare.

The Grand Tasting (May 21 & 22) – The “grand daddy” and signature event at this year’s festival, The Grand Tasting allows wine enthusiasts access to over 200 of the world’s most celebrated wineries. Held at the Nantucket Yacht Club, event participants can nosh on gourmet seafood hors d’oeuvres while sampling Australian pinot noirs until they’re red in the teeth. A variety of craft exhibits, including wine-inspired art and stunning glasswork, will be available for “peruse and purchase” missions.

To learn more about the lavish wine festival and a host of other weekend wine programs (including the Luncheon Symposium program, featuring hour-long tastings and discussion with four-course meals), you can call (508) 228-1128 or visit NWF online: www.nantucketwinefestival.com.